A tiny elevator plastered in stickers struggles its way up to the 12th floor of a Hong Kong apartment building. When it arrives I step out to find myself in a miniature shop crammed with an eclectic assortment of toys, vinyl racks, cassette tapes, and even a stack of vintage VHS porn. This is the unlikely headquarters of Absurd Trax, Hong Kong’s most prominent crew of DJs and producers dedicated to experimental club music. No one seems to mind the shoebox-sized space—in fact, they treasure it. In a city with astronomical rents and a constantly dwindling choice of music venues, they rally around the space they consider home.
一幢香港公寓楼里，贴满贴纸的小电梯摇晃着地往上攀升，一直到 12 楼停下。走出电梯，我发现自己身处一间狭小的商店里，里面堆满各种各样的玩具、唱片架、盒式磁带，甚至还有一堆复古的家用录像（VHS）色情片。这里就是 Absurd Trax 的工作室，让人有点意外。对于这群专注于实验俱乐部音乐的 DJ 和制作人，逼仄的空间并无大碍，事实上，他们很珍惜这个空间。在香港这个租金高昂、音乐场所不断减少的城市，他们聚集在这个小小的空间中，把这里称之为家。
Absurd Trax defies categorization. The music they produce is based on established club genres, but it quickly departs from the formula to incorporate unconventional beats and instrumentation. Six members make up the crew: the founder Gavin Wong (aka T0C1S), Kelvin T, Tsalal, ASJ, Alexmalism, and shealwaysappears. Another member, ANNA, passed away earlier this year. In addition to their record label, they also run a blog, the aforementioned shop, and a radio station called Hong Kong Community Radio, or HKCR—all out of their cramped 12th-floor office.
Listen to to some of our favorite tracks from Absurd Trax below:
点击即可试听几首 Absurd Trax 成员的歌曲:
With space at a premium, competition is fierce, and underground scenes are difficult to sustain. In the nightlife district Lan Kwai Fong, most bars and clubs play mainstream music with commercial appeal, leaving little room for experimentation. It’s a common problem in Hong Kong: there aren’t many outlets for niche tastes like Absurd Trax, and the few remaining independent outlets keep shuttering.
由于空间有限，竞争激烈，地下音乐越来越难以为继。在夜生活中心的兰桂坊，大多数酒吧和夜店都会播放更具商业魅力的主流音乐，实验音乐几乎没有生存的空间。 这是香港的一个常见问题：能容纳像 Absurd Trax 这样的小众音乐的场所不多，剩下的少数独立音乐场所也在逐一倒闭。
One venue that stood out as an exception was XXX Gallery, an important meeting point for the city’s creative outcasts. That’s where the Absurd Trax crew first got together. “We all met online originally,” Alexmalism says, setting down his electric violin. “But XXX was where we really started everything and became friends in real life. We did shows, had record clubs, and hosted workshops there.” Sadly, the space closed its doors in 2018, leaving a vacuum in the creative community.
In its absence, Absurd Trax floats between whatever venues they can find, often random bars and semi-legal raves in discreet warehouses. There are festivals like Sónar and Clockenflap, but they only come around once a year. One veteran from XXX, James Acey, now works as the music director of the Eaton Hotel, where he’s been using his position to create more spaces for the scene, but they’re still limited. The speaker system from XXX ended up at HKCR, and now even their tiny office has become a makeshift performance space.
“HKCR is the club now!” ASJ chirps, only half-joking. The only reason they have their current space is because their building, Foo Tak, on Hennessy Road, the main commercial strip of the Wan Chai neighborhood, is a “vertical arts village” whose landlord offers heavily discounted rents to artists and community groups.
画廊关门后，Absurd Trax 来回于他们所能找到的各种场所，比如随机挑选的酒吧、在隐蔽仓库举行的半合法聚会等等。香港也有会举办各种音乐活动，譬如 Sónar 和 Clockenflap 音乐节，但这些活动一年只举办一次。来自 XXX 画廊的 James Acey 现在是逸东酒店的音乐总监，他现在会尽量利用自己的职位，为小众音乐提供表演场所，但成败参半。XXX 画廊的音响系统如今留在了 HKCR，而 Absurd Trax 狭窄的工作室也成为了一个表演空间。
“HKCR 现在也是一家夜店了！” ASJ 半开玩笑说道。他们的这个工作室位于湾仔的主要商业街轩尼诗道上，之所以能保留现在这个工作室，唯一的原因是因为他们所在的富德楼是一个“垂直艺术之乡”，业主为艺术家和社区团体提供了大幅度的租金优惠。
“Our music is very niche here. You need a physical space as a platform to develop your artistry,” says Kelvin T, between jokes. But he accepts their position in the city. “People don’t always go to popular clubs for the music anyway—it’s often just a place to party.” Instead, they often throw private parties just for themselves.
“When only a couple people show up for my performance, they’re the ones who are really into music,” says Alexmalism. “Those people are so precious to me. Sometimes you have a larger crowd, but they don’t always care about what you’re doing.”
玩笑之余，Kelvin T 说：“我们的音乐在这里算是非常小众的。”但他接受团队的音乐在这座城市的地位，“我们需要一个实体空间作为平台来磨炼自己的技术。”“而那些热闹的夜店，去的人往往也不是为了听音乐的，大多时候，人们只是想去蹦个迪。”相反，他们常常会举办属于自己的私人派对。